By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
As the sporting world continues to turn now sixteen days after the Super Bowl and the conclusion to the NFL season, big trade deadline deals in the NBA and all the drama with free agency in the MLB certainly do their best to entertain, but ultimately are place holder stories to a potential breaking story from the NFL.
For better or worse, the sports news world revolves around the NFL with the majority of the public keeping an eye out for any potential big headlines no matter the time of year
The league is currently at a holding point with free agent moves not allowable until mid-March and the draft preparation not picking up until March’s beginning with the combine gathering in Indianapolis. Still some noteworthy news has hit the press of late that football fans will want to pay attention too. Let’s take a look at some big NFL stories that deserve some spotlight right now.
Antonio Brown Divide Opens Up
The major NFL news as this week opened up was further details from wide receiver Antonio Brown about his trade request away from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Brown and the Steelers have had a turbulent relationship over his career but it seemed to have hit a breaking point just before the end of this past regular season. Brown has since made it known that he would like a trade out of Pittsburgh and it seemed the Steelers front office was at least open to trading their star receiver.
On Monday, a meeting between Brown and Steelers President Art Rooney II made things look pretty official as it was announced that both sides have agreed to move on.
Brown’s contract is a major issue for him as he will not play this season with any guaranteed money based on his current contract. Brown went onto say in a separate video reaffirming his request to be traded and also made it clear that he wouldn’t play football without reworking the current deal he has.
Obviously, Brown could be a potential game changer for a team but he is also a 30 year old receiver with baggage. Brown wouldn’t make a lot of sense for a majority of the league but in a creative offense with a capable quarterback, the receiver could make a huge difference. Brown was even talked about as a potential MVP candidate not too long ago.
“Mr. Big Chest” could perhaps give a team a Khalil Mack like boost that worked for the Bears a season ago. Now a pair of Steelers in Le’Veon Bell and Brown will be all the talk in the NFL universe as we get closer to the beginning of the new league business year starting March 13th.
Conclusion to Collusion
Big news before the weekend broke was the announcement of a settlement agreement between Colin Kaepernick and the NFL regarding his collusion case.
Both sides came to an agreement even though details around the settlement have not been released. It was reported by Mike Freeman on Bleacher Report that the speculation of the amount is between $60 to 80 million. Kaepernick was first made famous in 2012-13 with his impressive play leading the San Francisco 49ers at quarterback to the Super Bowl. He then became even more famous with starting the kneeling protest during the playing of the National Anthem.
After this ex-Super Bowl quarterback was released by the 49ers, he hasn’t been given much of chance anywhere else. His collusion case needed to be resolved because of how important it is to end any type of collusion. It is a black eye on any league when league owners conspire together to block employment of certain players from getting jobs.
Kaepernick deserved a job somewhere this past season, whether it was to start the year or mid way through the year when multiple guys were getting chances that he wasn’t.
Hopefully this will not stop Kaepernick from getting another job in the NFL but it may be the last check he cashes from the league. Either way, it was money well deserved that Kaepernick earned after everything he went through.
The Alliance of American Football had a lot of drama in the second weekend of its inaugural season, both on and off the field.
The game of the weekend in the AAF was the Orlando Apollos coming from behind and beating the San Antonio Commanders 37-29. The Apollos improved to 2-0 and look like an explosive team both on offense and defense.
Close contests were the theme of Week 2 as the San Diego Fleet beat the Atlanta Legends 24 to 12 to close out the schedule on Sunday and on Saturday the Birmingham Iron outlasted the the Salt Lake City Stallions 12-9 while the Arizona Hotshots narrowly edged the Memphis Express 20-18.
Fans got treated to a weekend of close games which should hold people’s attention on the league for another week. Steve Spurrier and his Apollos squad are looking like a pretty entertaining team on both sides of the ball, can they become a team that gets people to come to the screens?
The AAF caught some unflattering headlines when word got out that some technical difficulties got in the way of the league covering its’ team’s payrolls, but behind a big investment of $250 million from Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon nothing happened to disturb the league’s business. Dundon’s investment means he will become the league’s chair.
Its still early and the AAF is still trying to get its footing but a few things may be brewing on the field and behind the scenes that could bring this league back to the forefront of the sports universe. It seems for now they just gotta take it week to week.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR